From Words to Action
by Bryan Wendell
Most people have good intentions when it comes to the fight against racial injustice.

That’s no longer good enough.

“Good intentions don’t get us there,” says Denelle Brown, associate dean of students for diversity & inclusion. “We need to provide folks with the basics of how we work together across differences — how we navigate difficult issues, how we engage in creating equity and hold one another accountable for carrying out our institutional values.”

To strengthen its efforts, Bucknell joined the new Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance. The consortium’s 53 inaugural members will share strategies, resources and data to “advance anti-racist dialogue and action in the United States and beyond,” says President John Bravman.

“The alliance will allow us to partner with colleagues across the country in a collaborative learning environment that will further prepare our campus leaders to improve and advance racial equity,” says Brown.

Through campus surveys conducted at each member institution, trends will emerge. More data means a better picture of the nationwide landscape, and a more complete understanding of institutions’ current status and where they need to go.

Brown says the tools and resources available through the alliance’s affiliation with the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center will work best when paired with the chance to practice these skills.

“It’s messy but necessary work that we are going to get right sometimes and other times are not,” Brown says. “Identifying interactions, policies and practices that are inequitable, problematic or unjust is not a personal attack. It’s feedback, an invitation to learn, grow and be better the next time.”

Bucknell’s biggest challenge, Brown says, will be making time for those conversations — not as an hour-a-week add-on but as something that’s “central to the fabric of the institution.”

“It’s tough for folks, because these are issues that have been unexamined and unchallenged for too long,” Brown says. “We must also offer one another the space and the grace to do the self-work, and perhaps make mistakes, as we journey together and learn in ways that help us to move forward and live out Bucknell’s commitment to equity and justice.”